What is the National Park Service?

U.S. President Woodrow Wilson established the National Park Service in 1916.
The National Park Service employs rangers to maintain parks and educate the public.
Alcatraz, a prison on an island in the San Francisco Bay that is a National Historic Landmark.
The USS Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor.
The National Park Service manages the Jefferson Memorial.
The White House is under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.
The striking landscape of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park has been used as a backdrop for many movies about the Wild West, including several by director John Ford.
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  • Written By: Steve R.
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 26 August 2015
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A bureau of the Department of the Interior, the National Park Service was established by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 under the Organic Act. The system composes nearly 400 national parks covering more than 84 million acres throughout the United States. The national agency was established with the intention of preserving natural and historical objects as well as wildlife. Through preservation, natural and historical items will remain intact so future generations may enjoy them.

The National Park Service uses more than 20 different names for the park units that are under its control. Classifications include national military parks, national battlefield sites, national lakeshores, national monuments, national parks, national parkways, national preserves and national reserves. Other units under the park service's realm include national recreation areas, national wilds, national scenic trails, and national seashores. Other designations, including the White House and National Mall, fall under the National Park Service's jurisdiction.

The National Park Service additionally oversees sites including the National Register of Historic Places, National Wild and Scenic Rivers, and National Historic Landmarks. Preservation efforts by the park service include protecting nearly 400 threatened or endangered species and more than 25,000 historic and prehistoric structures.


Annually, more than 250 million people visit national park units. Approximately 20,000 permanent, temporary, and season works help to maintain the services offered by the national agency. In addition, more than 176,000 volunteers offer their services each year. The agency operates with an annual budget of more than $2 billion and provides the upkeep of more than 900 visitor centers and contact stations. At more than half of the national parks, the federal agency charges an admittance fee. These fees go toward helping to boost visitor amenities.

The National Park Service also works with communities. Employers of the agency collaborate with various organizations, including Native American tribes, government agencies, non-profit agencies, and private citizens. Community efforts focus on creating new trails and playgrounds, protecting watersheds, and upholding local history. The park service also is able to bestow billions of dollars in preservation and outdoor recreation grants annually.

At more than 100 sites, the park service operates nearly 600 concessioners across the country. Concessioners include eateries, accommodation and transportation providers, and stores. These concessioners employ 25,000 people and bring in $800 million in gross revenues each year.



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